His daughter touched his face and cried ‘daddy, daddy’, recalls traumatised the good Samaritan.
In a violent country like South Africa, with its horrendous murder and car accident rates, death can be just around the corner and confront you when you least expect it.
And, even if you’re not a victim – if you’re a survivor or a witness – experiencing death first hand is a traumatic experience.
This is what a Centurion PhD student realised last weekend, when he witnessed a fatal motor cycle accident.
He was on his way back from a Sunday morning hike with friends on the R513 road when he noticed a group of bikers.
Suddenly, one of them appeared to lose control and his bike hit a car, catapulting him through the air to land on the road.
The student and his group immediately pulled over to help.
“When I got to the man, he lay face down on the road in an awkward position and he did not move.”
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The eyewitness said when he approached the accident scene, his first instinct was to help and he started diverting the traffic around the accident.
He said he felt the need to protect the victim’s dignity and continued to assist when the Tshwane Emergency Services arrived at the scene shortly afterwards.
“When I saw the blood running down the road, the bright red blood, I knew this is very bad.”
Paramedics got to work and tried to resuscitate the victim.
“I could see by the colour of his face he was badly injured. With every passing moment, he becomes paler and paler. And then they called it, he was deceased.”
The eyewitness said there were two times when tears came to him on Sunday.
“When I first saw the victim lie lifeless in the road I got a lump in my throat because deep down I suppose I knew he was gone.”
He said the second time he cried was when the victim’s family arrived at the accident scene a few hours later in a shaken state.
“When they unzipped the body bag one of the daughters touched his face and cried, ‘daddy, daddy’, while the other daughter stood on the other side of the van and broke down in tears. She yelled from the pain and I could feel her heartache through the tone of her voice.”
The eyewitness said it was surreal seeing a person drive a motorcycle the one moment and dead moments later.
“I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like I relive the scene over and over and every time I remember something else.”
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What upset him the most was the nosy passers-by who tried to get a glimpse of the accident.
Netcare 911 spokesman Shawn Herbst advised those who might find themselves in a similar situation: “For many individuals, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following a serious collision – whether it was the person who had the collision or the person that witnessed the collision – may include psychologically re-experiencing the trauma.
“An example would be intrusive thoughts about the collision, distressing dreams about it, persistent avoidance of thoughts or situations associated with the collision,” Herbst said.
If this is happening to you, don’t be afraid to seek professional psychological help.
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